Video of black woman thrown to ground in Austin sparks review

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A video released by the Austin Police Department shows an officer slam a black woman to the ground twice while arresting her on June 15, 2015.

Austin's police chief says his department's chain of command needs to be reviewed in the wake of a video showing a white officer throwing a black Texas teacher to the ground during a traffic stop.

More than a year passed between the traffic stop and Chief Art Acevedo's condemning what happened. The Austin American-Statesman reported Thursday that there were at least four opportunities for Acevedo to have been notified of the video sooner.

Department officials say Acevedo wasn't notified when Richter's supervisors reviewed the incident months earlier.

Top officials also said they weren't told that King's attorneys had asked for video from the patrol cars of Richter and Patrick Spradlin, the other officer involved in the traffic stop.

The video shows Richter nearly throwing King into an adjacent truck in the parking lot of a Wendy's after pulling her over for going 15 mph over the speed limit around lunchtime. Spradlin eventually handcuffed her and took her to jail. He is caught on tape suggesting blacks might be more prone to violence.

Both officers have been placed on desk duty. A grand jury is expected to soon review the case, and a city councilwoman has called for a review of how it was handled.

In one of the two videos retrieved, Spradlin is heard asking King, "Why are so many people afraid of black people?"

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Video shows an Austin police officer talking with Breaion King following her arrest on June 15, 2016.

When King said that she is also trying to figure that out, Spradlin then says: "I can give you a really good idea why it might be that way. Violent tendencies."

Acevedo said officials in his department should have notified him sooner, but also questioned whether other local agencies dropped the ball as well.

"At the end of the day, it starts with us, the chain of command and how we review things," Acevedo told the newspaper. "But the criminal justice system has a lot of cogs in the wheel, and every cog - from the police department, the police monitor, the county attorney, the district attorney and ultimately the courts - have a role in ensuring accountability."

Travis County Attorney David Escamilla said his office reviewed the case and forwarded it to District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. Escamilla told the newspaper he didn't call Acevedo to preserve "the integrity of any independent investigation by the DA."

Lehmberg said this week that prosecutors would present the case to a grand jury in the next several weeks.

"This matter is a priority for our office," she said.
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(Copyright ©2016 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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